PULLMAN, Wash. — Phillip J. Neal, a student in Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow School of Communication, has been named a finalist in the American Advertising Federation’s Most Promising Minority Students program.

Neal is one of 40 winners from a national field of some 80 applicants. Both Neal and his nominator, WSU faculty member Tien-Tsung Lee, will attend the AAF Most Promising Minority Students Conference Feb. 8-10 in New York City. Neal and Lee will be featured with other winners and their advisers in the Feb. 7 issue of Advertising Age and in an issue of USA Today the week of Feb. 14.

“I was really surprised to hear I was a finalist,” Neal said. “They work you pretty hard in the advertising department. I guess it paid off.”

Neal credits professors Lee and Dan Petek for giving him the skills he needed to make the finals and views the MPMS program as a potential boost to his career. “It helps get talented minorities placed in national, professional positions and brings diversity to advertising,” he said. His ultimate goal is to own an advertising agency.

“Mr. Neal’s work is always of the highest professional quality,” said Lee in his nomination of Neal. “Mr. Phillip Neal will have an exemplary career in advertising and will be an inspiration for members of ethnic minorities in advertising and marketing in the future.”

Ensuring bright careers for promising minority students is the goal of the AAF MPMS program. “The AAF’s academic network is providing record numbers of outstanding young graduating advertising students to the industry,” said AAF President and Chief Executive Officer Wally Snyder. “We are really pleased to present this year’s outstanding minority candidates to the eager recruiters we know will be in attendance.”

Neal, a communication major, with an emphasis in advertising, was selected a member of the National Student Advertising Competition team for WSU. Originally from Tacoma, Neal is the second of 10 children, one of 18 grandchildren and will be the first of two generations to graduate with a four-year degree in Dec. 2005.

This year marks the second consecutive year a WSU student has been honored by the AAF MPMS program. Last year, senior advertising major Elene Flores Davidson was named a Most Promising Minority Student. Her nominator was communication professor E. Lincoln James.